Friday, January 21, 2011

Are we going to lose Borders?

This article on the front page of the Washington Post made me cry.

I love Borders.  I live at Borders.  The staff knows me.   A barista will see me browsing, and come over and ask me what drink would I like my vanilla with, today?   Bookstores have been in the throes of death for some years now.  The chains, such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, were largely responsible for the loss of so many local bookstores. (In fairness to the chains,  the branches have become the local bookstores, stocking local material and featuring local authors.) 
Knock, Knock ... enter Amazon, leaving boxes of books at one's door.   I am the first to admit that I order books from Amazon, but I also purchase books at Borders.  I read a lot. 
My Saturday routine includes a stop at Borders Books on Frontier in Springfield, Virginia.  With a large vanilla latte (skim milk) in my hand, I browse the magazines and the books, and invariably, I end up at the cashier, flash my Borders Rewards Plus card, and buy a new book.
(After I read the book, I might sell it used on Amazon or Ebay!)

But Amazon is not the real culprit here.  Far too many people have purchased e-book readers.  Shame on you?  Who wants to read a book on a small screen?  Not me!   I am morally opposed to these things - book killers!

*       There goes $200 down the drain if you drop the e-reader into the bathtub or the pool! 
*        Don't you want to know what other people are reading on the plane, train, or bus?  It is difficult    to strike up a conversation with the person next to you ... is that a great book -- if you don't know what they are reading! 
*         Jobs!   Do you know how many AMERICAN jobs will be lost if the bookstore chains start to fail?   What about jobs in publishing.   Don't need book jacket covers if you use an e-reader?  So what happens to the designers, the artists, let alone the assistants and entry level jobs.  This damn e-readers are made in CHINA!      American technology - but no Americans making the damn product!   I really hate these things.

I want to touch a book, I want flip through the pages.  I cannot dog-ear an e-book and leave it on the plane for someone else to enjoy.

What will happen to bookshelves?  Having lots of books in a house makes one look smart ... well, perhaps.   A house without books is a house without life, without charm, without ... class.  I have books that are over 100 years old.  Your e-reader will need to be replaced next year. 

What about scratch 'n sniff books?   This is impossible on an e-reader.  You can try, but all you will get are scratches on a screen. 
I want to have piles of books on my cocktail table, ready to delve into at any time.  I like having a book in my carry bag. 

It's true that I am a Luddite, when it comes to technology.  Although I have embraced technology, such as the Internet, in my work as a librarian, but the students use more books than databases.  I still send handwritten thank you notes, and I think it is very, very tacky to send e-cards for birthdays and Christmas!  I do not have a Smartphone, and I do not want one.  I pay $30 a month to T-Mobile for my cell phone - and rarely ever use up my 300 week day minutes (each month).   I have a grandfather plan with T-Mobile.   The firm cannot force me to upgrade or change to a higher rate plan, even though T-Mobile no longer offers my plan.   If I want to search the Internet, I use my computer.  It's a desktop.  If I want to send an e-mail,  I use my computer. 
What about texting?  Do not like it.  I text only when I am out of the country because it is cheaper to text than make an overseas call on my cell phone.  
I still have a land line (and one corded phone in the house so when the power goes out, I can call the power company! -- and calling overseas on a land line is a lot -- and I mean a lot cheaper than with a cell phone.)  FYI: my power rarely ever goes out, but it did last summer.

 Why text, when you can actually pick up the telephone and call someone and TALK with them.    I don't keep my cell phone in my hand at all times, in anticipation of a call or a text every three minutes. 

I want to read books.  I want to buy books.  Real Books.  Books made with paper.   I want my Borders.  
Death to the e-readers! 


  1. As a book lover, I was sad when I read the story this morning, too. I have about 1,000 books, mostly hardbacks, and I cherish each and every one.

    But, I also love ebooks. I've been reading them for about 10 years now. Having access to my book from anywhere -- synchronized across my phone, iPad, laptop, computer, etc. -- is great. So is being able to download a book and begin reading instantly.

    While I wouldn't want to see the bookstores -- or books! -- go away, I have to admit that Borders hasn't lured me to buy much in a long time. I bought 110 books last year -- all ebooks, mostly through Amazon.

    My advice to Borders would be to bundle the real book and the ebook so we who love both can have the best of both worlds. I'd pay a premium to get both.

  2. Think of how many jobs are being lost in America!

  3. Totally agreeing with you. I love Borders and it is very sad news. When I lived in Eastern Michigan I went to Borders all the time. I live in West Michigan now and there are no Borders but lots of Barnes & Nobles. Amazon and e readers will never replace the bookstore experience or books for me. I have no interest in e readers, I love books, love having them, carrying them around and looking at them. And an ereader won't look good on all my bookshelves.


  4. On the jobs issue, Marlene, that's just the way things evolve -- and always have. Cars pushed out wagon-wheel manufacturers and groomsmen. Telephones idled telegraph operators and telegram delivery boys. Things like voicemail, email, and computers obliterated the function of "secretary." People move on.